Bush & the Press

posted Apr 25, 2004

The Instapundit (left leaning readers need not leave; you may actually like the ending of this post) has an interesting story about President Bush's feelings on the press, referencing this essay; basically it boils down to this exchange with a reporter:

a reporter says to the president: is it really true you don't read us, don't even watch the news? Bush confirms it.
And the reporter then said: Well, how do you then know, Mr. President, what the public is thinking? And Bush, without missing a beat said: You're making a powerful assumption, young man. You're assuming that you represent the public. I don't accept that.

Disclosure: Yes, I'm fairly "anti-press" at this point. But this is as scary as it is good. As flawed as the press is, what other mechanism does the President have for communicating with us? If Bush turns his back on the press corps, what will he replace it with?

I think there are potential answers to that. I think whitehouse.gov could become a more useful site for actual communication, instead of the equivalent of "press release" communication. (If you kiss off the press, do a complete job of it and kiss off the inhuman paradigms the press has forced on you, or you're just wasting your time; not playing their game is the entire point, and changing venue without changing tactics means you didn't really change the venue in this case.) There are other alternatives as well. I would not mind a government news show, as long as it was clear who was producing it and it did nothing in the law to exalt itself over citizen efforts. (Let the Administration put everything in the best light it can, we've got thousands of journalists ready to counter-balance. As long as the core stories are true, it will still provide valuable insight into how the Administration is thinking. In that sense, more propoganda would almost be more revealing.)

But if this is solely a signal of disconnection from the press, with no serious replacement mechanism for communication, then this is bad news. While I've preferred Bush to the alternatives to date, I have been concerned by his administration's tendency to treat the Presidency like a Kingship. (I do not look kindly on Congress' complicity in passing things like the Patriot act to remove judicial oversight either.) If this is the beginning of a complete disconnect, the opportunity to cut yet one more binding loose, then I'm going to have to seriously re-think that position. As our employee, the President has a duty to keep us informed of his actions, to the extent his oath to protect the country allows. If the press is not the most efficient method of doing so, so be it. But there must be some method, or as far as I'm concerned, you're fired for unforgivable dereliction of duty, and I'll hold my nose a little tighter and vote Kerry.


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